FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 4, 2016
Contact: Sevag Belian (613) 235-2622
Ottawa – The Armenian National Committee of Canada is deeply concerned regarding the recent detainment and arrest of Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chairs of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP (Halkların Demokratik Partisi) party. Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ were illegally arrested along with 9 other HDP MP’s late Thursday night, as the ongoing crackdown against the opposition and civil society continued in Turkey.
“As a part of our strong commitment to human rights, justice and democracy, we strongly condemn such acts by the Erdogan Regime, that overtly undermine the democratic institutions, values and the inalienable rights of the people” said Shahen Mirakian, President of the ANCC, in a letter addressed to the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The illegal arrests of the legally elected Turkish Parliamentarians happen just a few days after the Turkish regime shut down the editorial offices of the “Cumhuriyet” newspaper, one of the most highly acclaimed media outlets in the country. Moments after the arrest of HDP Parliamentarians, the authorities also shut down all access to social media outlets, further containing people’s rights to freely communicate and disseminate the news regarding the governments unsanctioned arrests.
The HDP, or the otherwise known People’s Democratic Party is the third largest political party in the Turkish Parliament, occupying 59 of the total 550 seats in the Turkish Grand Assembly. Ever since its election in 2014, the HDP has sought to promote an agenda of ethnic co-existence, democratic values and minority rights and has been a strong voice against the oppressive and authoritarian tactics of the Erdogan regime.
Strongly opposing the regimes divisive and manipulative politics, the HDP has been the only Turkish political party to publicly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, calling upon the Turkish government to face its own history. Garo Paylan, an HDP parliamentarian of Armenian origin has been a strong voice within the party apparatus and on multiple occasions, he has publicly challenged the Erdogan regime for its unwarranted actions.
“We call upon the Canadian government to immediately condemn the actions of the Turkish government and exert the necessary political pressure on their authorities to free the HDP parliamentarians that were arrested on trumped-up charges and baseless accusations” said Mirakian.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.